This year’s Best of Texas Awards showcased what it means to advance public sector IT at the state and local level. On June 17, the Center for Digital Government honored individuals and agencies for their achievements at its Texas Digital Government Summit in Austin, Texas.
Agencies and IT project teams were recognized for being the best in the state at public service, serving agency needs, collaboration, in-house development, mobile and wireless development, and innovation in social media. Additionally, 12 awards were given to individuals for Outstanding IT Service and Support.
The Center for Digital Government’s Best of Texas Awards program recognizes public sector professionals and local government organizations for their dedication and contributions to advance information technology in Texas. Winners are selected based on a number of criteria, including collaboration among agencies, innovative use of technology, economic benefits and bettering public services and business processes.
2014 Award Recipients:
Demonstrated Excellence in Project Management
Bridget Wolf, Application Development Manager, Texas Parks and Wildlife
Best Application Serving the Public
• Texas Student Data System (TSDS) Unique ID, Texas Education Agency
• Voter Line Wait Mobile Application, Collin County
Best Application Serving an Agency’s Business Needs
• Electronic Mileage System + (eMS+), Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
• Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR), City of Dallas
Best IT Collaboration Among Organizations
• Bexar County’s BiblioTech
• Pilot for Texas Cloud Offering (PTCO), Texas Department of Information Resources
Best In-House Developed Application
• Active Felony Warrants GIS Application, Bexar County
• FAST (Financial Allocation Study for Texas) Tracker, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Best Mobile/Wireless Project
• CapMetro Mobile Ticketing App, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Most Innovative Use of Social Media
• Tourism-Based Policing through Social Media, City of Arlington Police Department
Bridget Wolf showed that excelling at project management can be as simple as getting executive support and staying focused. Wolf was presented the award for Demonstrated Excellence in Project Management as she approaches 35 years with the state.
Wolf told Government Technology that to receive such an award is a great honor, but that she considers the award a reflection of her team’s work, and not just her own. “In reality, it’s a whole team of people with me from the agency because one project leader doesn’t make a project,” she said. “You have to have a good strong team behind you. I’m just proud of it for the whole team.”
Wolf was most recently credited with leading the development of three major systems for the department, including a business information system, boat registration system, and license sales system. Wolf explained that to be successful in project management, one needs to maintain focus and never give up throughout inevitable highs and lows.
“I’m very goal oriented,” she said. “I’m a very focused manager. I see a task at hand that needs to be accomplished and I stay focused on it until it’s accomplished and I don’t let things slide. I want to make sure that everything I owe people or that people are expecting from me gets done. I take pride in the fact that the agency is presented well to our constituents. I didn’t want them to be disappointed in what was delivered by this agency. I take a lot of pride in the work we produce.”
Wolf also emphasized the importance of staying practical, noting that if you ask an agency what they want in a project, they tend to ask for everything, rather than what’s reasonable. A better strategy for project management, she said, is to work piecemeal and look carefully at the return on investment for what the project is trying to do, while also staying focused on the mission of the department. “Be reasonable, be practical, that’s really it,” she said.
Her own success was enabled by her managers, Wolf said, and added that support from above is indispensable for the success of a government agency’s projects. “They were so supportive and there for any issues, any concerns,” she said. “If there’s one thing that’s more important than anything else, it’s that. It’s really a team effort. One person, you can lead but there’s a lot of people behind working for you.”
Wolf started with the state in 1979, joined Texas Parks & Wildlife Department in 1987, and started as director of application development in late 2000, working her way up from programmer analyst, to team lead, to her position today. “It’s really a great place to work,” she said.